Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Overview of the Northeast Unschooling Conference 2009!

(This first paragraph was written last night. I ended up giving up after then and postponing the rest until today! :-P)

So, you know how I said I was going to write a daily journal entry unless I was having too much fun? Well, I was having too much fun! I'm honestly torn about whether or not I should write about the conference now, because I only arrived home today at about 7:30 pm and I'm ridiculously tired (hanging out with people was the priority at the conference, not sleep), but at the same time I really want to write about it while everything is still fresh in my mind! So I'm going to plow through the exhaustion, and hope that what I write isn't complete crap! (As I said above, I gave up on that idea. Instead, I'm writing Wednesday, when I'm slightly (only slightly) less sleep deprived!)

Day 2 (I counted the first day of travel as day 1) which also happens to be August 27

The 27th was Emilie's 16th Birthday, as well as being the first day of the conference! I felt really bad when I forgot to wish her a happy Birthday in the morning, but a friend of hers had discovered when her Birthday was and made her a lovely card, then got it signed by a ton of people at the conference. It was really sweet, and made Emi happy. :-)

Conference registration opened, and people just hung around the registration area talking. I didn't really know anyone well, so I was being pretty shy... My mom started talking to people so I just trailed around bouncing between my mom and Emi, until I got into a conversation, along with my mom, with Erika. I have to thank her for being the first person to make me relax and laugh!

I went to Eli's World Travel Photos session, and although there wasn't a great turnout (apparently the first time slot in a conference isn't necessarily the best), I enjoyed seeing the cool photos, and I had some interesting conversations with the people who were there about Montreal, Quebec, our culture and history, family history, and similar interesting things... I also got a henna tattoo, which is something I've wanted to do for a while, so I'm happy I finally did! It's mostly worn off by today, but it's still visible...

The whole afternoon my mom was stealthily arranging a surprise for my sister. In the evening, just before karaoke started, they played Happy Birthday and pulled out a cake. She was completely surprised, so that was awesome. :-)

Since I'm not exactly much of a karaoke person, I headed outside to throw a Frisbee around with a bunch of people instead. Now Frisbees, I like. :-)

After that, I headed to bed... Probably my earliest night of the whole week!

Day 3 (august 28)

This day was lots of fun, but so long it almost felt like two separate days! First off, I stumbled down to the Tie Dye workshop, where I greatly enjoyed dyeing my shirt in cool ways. I'm thrilled with how it turned out! I also got my feet and legs dyed, thanks to some very enthusiastic young kids with squirting dye bottles! :-) I then went to the Artist Trading Card funshop. I'd never heard of ATC's before, but I LOVE the idea! You take a small card (2 1/2 by 3 1/2 I believe) and do whatever you want with it. Collage, painting, drawing, basically creating a miniature work of art, then trade it with someone else for their miniature work of art. That way, everyone ends up with awesome artwork from all different people. Really cool!

The card at the top (I couldn't get the picture to rotate for some reason) has the most wonderful little story. It reads:

A lone fisherman sat on a stretch of beach. His single fishing pole was planted in the sand. Along came a businessman on vacation. "Why don't you have two poles so you can catch more fish?" the business asked. "Then what would I do?" asked the fisherman. "Then you could take the extra money, buy a boat, get nets and a crew, and catch even more fish." "Then what would I do?" asked the Corsican. "Then," said the businessman, "you could move up to a fleet of large ships, go whole-sale, and become very rich." "Then what would I do?" asked the Corsican. "Do whatever you want!" shouted the businessman. And the Corsican replied, "I am."

After lunch (or in my case most probably after hanging around with people or something, since I was either too busy or didn't feel like eating most of the time while I was there!) I went to a discussion called Unschooling Teens, then to one called Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol, both of which were interesting. THEN I went to a session with Michael about GLBT issues, which ended up being more of a presentation on transgender issues, which I'm glad of. It was a great session! I think that too often people focus entirely on sexual orientation, and forget that gender identity is something extremely important that more people should be talking about! EDIT: Bonnie wrote a cool post on that here.

That evening, I stayed up late talking to people and listening to beautiful music played, and sung, by Julian (check out his stuff here).

Day 4 (August 29)

Went to Erika and Kathryn's Even More Different talk, which was great and really got me thinking. After that, I spent most of the lunch break having fascinating conversations.

I picked at food a bit, talked to people a lot, then went to Eli and my discussion, Untraditional Adult Paths. There was a really good turnout, which tells me that this is something that should be talked about more at unschooling conferences, since apparently it interests a lot of people! I feel it went really well. Most people were a lot more interested in Eli's input, since he's been doing things "untraditionally" for a while now, but I'm happy with what input I did give, and it was great to hear from several people who have managed quite well without either college or regular jobs. :-)

After that, I went to a photograohy funshop! There were only a few of us, so basically we just hung around chatting about photography, then wandered around a bit taking pictures. It was fun.

We fed a couple of people sandwiches, then it was on to the entertainment of the evening. An absolutely AWESOME band called Fishing With Finnegan, made up of grown unschooling siblings, was playing, and they were tons of fun. They play Irish, Scottish, English, and American folk, and they do it with much humour and a unique flair. I highly reccomend that you check them out! After the concert, I sat around talking with a couple of of the band members, as well as the other cool people I'd been hanging out with. Even once the band members were dragged away by the rest of their family, I stayed talking to people for a while more... Are you noticing a theme here? Another long but good day.

Day 5 (August 30)

The last official day of the conference, I was finally relaxed enough to pretty much just be myself. That always seems to happen with me. I only ever relax at the end of an event! After closing remarks, I, can you guess? Yup, hung around talking to people for a couple of hours! Then I played a game that was quite popular, especially with the moms (they were intense at that game. Scarily intense. O_o), called Bananagrams.

Annnd after that, virtually everyone who hadn't left right after closing remarks went out for Sushi! It was kind of funny actually. Someone called the restaurant ahead of time to make reservations, but the restaurant understood the reservation to be for 3 to 5 people, when really it was for 35!! Luckily, they managed to fit all 45 of us in (more people went then had oroginally said they would). My table played hang man (with much laughter and joking around) while we waited for our food, and the sushi was really good. Fun times. :-)

Having entirely given up on getting any decent sleep while still at the con, I was up late with a bunch of people who decided to not sleep at all... I was actually one of the first to bed, at 2:30 or so!

Day 6 (August 31)

The last conference activity was a picnic in Salem, right on the beach. I played Frisbee, hung around with peeps, and went for a long walk on the beach...

I also came very close to heading straight to Texas for the Rethinking Education conference with a couple of friends! It was a crazy plan that ended up not working out (airfare was just too expensive), but it really brought home the fact that it's very possible to just take off across the country when you feel like it, so I've decided I'm going next year. That conference looks awesome, and there's no reason why I shouldn't go!

It was sad saying goodbye to everyone, and the hotel felt so very quiet and lonely that night...

Day 7 (September 1)

We drove home. Pretty simple, really.

Now, this post feels like such a skimming of the surface (and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of the surface stuff as well). I had so many wonderful conversations, such a wonderful time overall, so many new thoughts and realizations, that I can't possibly fit it all into one post. There are several issues and things that I plan on devoting whole posts too, but for now this will do. Some interesting posts you may want to check out, that are to do with this conference, are Jean's post on "unparenting" at the conference (it was pretty bad), and Bonnie's posts entitled Shit Happens. Even to Unschoolers. and Highlights from NEUC 2009. Eli also wrote an overview of the conference here.

As I said, more to come soon!



  1. Hi Idzie,
    It was great to meet you after reading your blog for some time!
    I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)

  2. Great post and great pictures! I wish I'd been able to stay for the picnic, it looks like you guys had fun. I miss everyone!

  3. Also that's so cool that people tried to help you get to Texas! I figured everyone would assume it was impossible, so the fact that people tried says a lot!

  4. Yeah, the whole conference was a lot of fun and chatting with people about all kinds of things was a theme wasn't it!? Enjoyed chatting with you and your whole family. I like how your mom and Hannah's mixed in with the teens and young adults.

    I also really enjoyed Jean's post on "Unparenting vs. Unschooling" and I read some of Bonnie's posts but didn't notice the "Shit Happen Even to Unschoolers" so I'm looking forward to checking it out! Those two things were an unworkshoped discussion theme during the conference: unparenting and shit does happen.

    Yeah, Julian was amazing. It was perfect: I was in the hall and I heard someone singing really nicely. I honestly wondered who that could be: there were no guys I knew at the conference I imagined could sing like that! Anyway, here's the sites of his I could find:

    Julian Baptista's MySpace page:

    Julian's Facebook fan page:

    I look forward to reading your individual posts about other specific topics.... And thanks again for helping me with the Untradtional Adult Paths Discussion! I really was inspired by that post you made a few weeks ago, where many people responded to you with all kinds of suggestions.

  5. I really love that card that you posted about. Did you buy it or make it?

  6. Wow. I have got to get myself to one of these conferences sometime. This one sounds wicked awesome!!!